Cocktails, Characters & Quirks

I love creating stories. One thing I loathe in my own writing, though, is characters who lack depth. They are cardboard cut-outs with no imperfections. These characters bore me to tears. What about you? If you were going to introduce them to your friends, what would you say?

“This is my heroine, Joie. She heals animals. She loves her godmother. She’s pretty.”

Yeah. I won’t want to hang out with her. She comes across as perfect, right? Nobody is perfect. At least not in my group of friends. I want my characters to be real not cardboard cutouts.

Now what about:

“This is my heroine Joie. She heals animals. She thinks she’s too short. She has a jealous streak a mile wide but she is a loyal friend.”

So she sounds far more real to me. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. We have flaws as well as strengths. I think she is someone I could be friends with now. Moreso than the cardboard perfect Joie from before.

Okay, but how do you get those quirks? How do you develop a character who is 3-D…believable? One way that I do it is with a simple three card Tarot spread. Try this out for your next character and let me know the results.

Cocktail Spread

The premise is that you are going to a party with your character as your guest. You are going to have to do a short introduction when you get there. Draw three cards for the following positions.

Personal Life

Using the award-winning Ghosts And Spirits Tarot by Lisa Hunt (U.S. Games Systems, INC 2012) I drew the following cards for a different character:

  • My character’s job requires them to be a mentally focused warrior. He can’t let his guard drop ever. (King of Swords)
  • My character’s personal life has too many ties to his past so he really doesn’t like to talk about it. (5 of Cups)
  • His quirk is that he parties so he can be one of the guys but he really wants one of the guys. (4 of Cups)

So, from this, I realized my character is a gay soldier who has rejoined the military to get away from a bad relationship. 😀 It’s my story so I get to let my brain wander wherever it likes. King of Swords is a warrior. When I saw the 5 of Cups next, I immediately wondered about his past relationships. Why would he be a warrior with a broken heart. But the 4 of Cups showed me he had a bunch of regrets but ignored them by indulging in the drink too much.

Or, if I were going a more paranormal track, I might say that he was an eternal warrior(job) who was haunted by all the loves he’d lost(personal life). He avoids water because that is how the ghosts of his past connect to him(quirk). And there’s nothing worse than being nagged by a dead ex!

This is a good spread for the main characters and the villain.

So what are your cards? What is your take away? I’d love to hear what you think. You can use any deck. A deck of playing cards (look the meanings up online) can work as can any oracle deck.

This exercise is from a workshop I used to teach online. I’ve turned that month long Hero’s Journey (a Tarot for Writers workshop) into an eCourse. Now you can take advantage of all the lessons, handouts and writing prompts whenever you like. No more waiting for me to set up a workshop. It’s my secret weapon for NaNoWriMo.

Some great books are:

  1. Vogler, Christopher, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
  2. Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
  3. Pearson, Carol, Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World

A more extensive bibliography comes with the eCourse.

If you like, I’ve got a video here. It is on YouTube but was on Periscope first. It’s not great quality video wise…it was my first one. 😀 I do a few exercises including this one. 😀

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, I’m there as TarotByArwen. I do it every year.

Please note that links included may be affiliate links which means I get a small monetary payment if you buy via them.

Originally posted in 2012. I've updated the post and republished.

Sorry, You’ve Got It All Wrong!

Why your vision of your perfect day is patently false.

This is the Ace of Winds from the Shapeshifter Tarot by Lisa Hunt. I love the feeling of air moving here. She’s ready to launch into her wise Arctic Owl self and soar. Are you? Shapeshifter Tarot, Llewellyn, 2002

Part of my practice is to draw a card each day. Recently one of the cards reminded me that you are all wrong. That none of you know what a perfect day is. That none of you have any concept of a truly ideal day. How do I know? Well let me tell you what a perfect day is. Then you’ll know.

A perfect day is slightly overcast. There’s a brisk wind coming in that carries just a bit of cool with it so the ambient temperature is around 68. There might even be the scent of rain on that wind. The sky is just a bit gray. The sun is definitely not bright and shining. The wind is the key for the perfect day. It must lift skirts, fluff hair and generally flutter things.

WHAT? Not your perfect day?

Okay. Close your eyes. Tell me what your perfect day looks like. Place yourself right into that scene.

Betcha it’s different from mine in most cases.
Betcha your perfect day is perfect for you.

Now try this. Picture your perfect person. Not yourself. Not your lover. Just your perfect person. What do they say? What do they do? How do they act? What makes them a perfect person to you? Is it what they wear? Is it the color of their hair? Their skin? What about their weight? Did you think about how much they weigh when you were deciding what perfection in a person meant to you? Did you worry about their eye color or their footwear?

Betcha the key things were more internal than external.
Betcha the important stuff was what they say and what they do rather than what they wear or who they know.

So why worry about what others think about the external you, darling? Why worry at all? It’s what’s inside that is important to you. Why should anyone else be different? They are worried about the same things. We all are concerned that we won’t be accepted for this thing or for that thing.

Me? What is my worry?

Being seen as weird.

I worry that I will be seen as weird and not a real business woman because I use Tarot. Because my coaching business uses Tarot to help others seek joy. Because I teach Tarot for a living.

Silly, right? I agree. So I remind myself to co-opt the Austin, TX and Portland, OR. Keep Arwen Weird. And let my freak flag fly! That’s perfect for me. It helps me stay mindful for those of you who practice mindfulness.

So my perfect day, my perfect person and my perfect motto aren’t yours. It’s all good, darling. That means we have room to wiggle and to grow. Room to find our own perfect spot.

Not sure how to find your wise inner self? I can help. Let’s have a conversation using the Tarot as our tools to set your feet on the joy seeking path today.

Seek joy, y’all. Pass it on.

Oh by the way? Lisa Hunt and I worked on a Lenormand deck called Fairy Tale Lenormand. Just released 9/1/16. If you want to learn how to read Tarot my way, check out my upcoming class Trust Your Gut Intuitive Tarot.


TarotCopes for December 7-13, 2014

TarotCopes for December 7-13, 2014

Explorer of Water, Gaian Tarot Limited EditionWelcome to this week’s TarotCopes! I hope you enjoy them and share them. 😀 I am still looking for your opinions please. Take my survey about my new business model for 2015. 1 winner wins a full year’s subscription. Tarotscopes after the survey, darlings!

[wwm_survey id=”0″]

Leave a comment if you get an error when submitting this survey, please!

Ready to rev up your 2015? I have two ways! One is to take a Joy Road Trip with me. The other is to grab your copy of Leonie Dawson’s 2015 Creating Your Shining Year. HINT! If you take the Joy Road Trip, I’ll be buying you a copy of Leonie’s workbook. 😀

CARD OF THE WEEK: NINE OF EARTH Time to make a list. Not at to-do, but a “ta-done”! Review your accomplishments. Pat yourself on the back. It all counts!

AQUARIUS LIGHTNING Expect something to get toppled but don’t worry. Making room for better things sometimes requires knocking walls down.

PISCES THREE OF FIRE Anticipation. Waiting. To heck with that! Make your own music. Write your own song. Create the energy you crave right now.

ARIES FIVE OF EARTH Sheltering yourself may feel like the safest choice but don’t deny yourself the comfort of family/friends. Reach out.

TAURUS BINDWEED If you are feeling trapped, check who said yes when they should’ve said no. Time to cut the ties that bind. Money isn’t king.

GEMINI EXPLORER OF WATER Get moving. Boat trips are favored. Cruise time? Let your heart lead this week. Follow deepest desires into joy. Go for it.

CANCER SEVEN OF WATER Dreams are great but isn’t it time you dove into one wholeheartedly? You waste time dithering about which one to choose.

LEO PAGE OF WATER Don’t be surprised if love shows up. Check the mirror first. Love for self must shine back at you. Then love from others!

VIRGO THREE OF CUPS Time to let your hair down, honey. No party to go to? Throw one! Let joy be your guiding call. Bake a plateful of joy!

LIBRA TWO OF FIRE Sometimes the one who winds you up the most, inspires you the most. Don’t let energy go to waste. Get passionate now!

SCORPIO TWO OF AIR Who are you listening to the most? What is their track record? Choose a better coach, darling. Information from left field!

SAGITTARIUS STRENGTH Something causes you to have to dig down deep but don’t worry. You’ve got this. Your strength comes from knowing right from wrong.

CAPRICORN SUN Celebrate you. Reaching out to family counts. You must let yourself shine so they can see how to follow your awesomeness.

The Explorer of Water is from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna P. Colbert.

Dancing From The Center Of Our Passion

We would all be dancing from the center of our own passion.

[Tweet “We would all be dancing from the center of our own passion. #seekjoy”]

Gaian Tarot Explorer of Fire
Gaian Tarot

#affirmation Today I’m answering a question posed by Amethyst Mahoney in her Spiritual Badass blog challenge.

“If you were in charge of things, what would the World look like?”

Joy. That’s what the world would look like if I were in charge. JOY.

There would be rewards for those who made it their life’s work to bring happiness to others. I have so many things in my head that it is hard to get them all out.

Things like…could we end world hunger if everyone who had enough to eat went without one day a week? That they sent the money they would have spend on food for that one day to some place where there isn’t enough food.

Things like…could we end wars if everyone agreed to the basic fact that we can all worship who we like? What would happen if the Protestants and the Catholics agreed to that? The Jews and the Muslims? The Christians and everybody else? Can you imagine a world where we don’t say, “Oh she’s not a member of our church” as if it were a slur?

I can.

I work daily to remind people, to teach people, to exhort people to seek joy.

This Explorer of Fire is the perfect example of what the world would look like. We would all be dancing from the center of our own passion. We would move through life knowing that what we said and did affected others. We would understand our place in the Universal web.

And we would live as though we mattered.

Today’s affirmation:

I matter. I am important. What I do is sacred. What I think is precious. I choose to live an intentional, authentic life. Loved and loving, I love each of you. Seek joy, y’all. Pass it on.

By the way, have you listened to this month’s TarotCopes podcast? There’s a contest that end 8/15.

Explorer of Fire, Gaian Tarot, Llewellyn Publishing


The Joy Challenge: Day Four

When she hadn’t arrived by ten after, I began to get a bit annoyed. I mean, she’s just not the type of person to show up late without calling.

TJoyGreenMum_52014oday is Thursday so it’s day four of the seven day Joy Challenge. How are you doing? Are you finding small joys as well as large?

This Tuesday I had a situation that could have been a real source of irritation. I had plans to meet with a friend. We were going to have our own little tea and Tarot session.

So I showed up at the coffeehouse at 1 on the nose. When she hadn’t arrived by ten after, I began to get a bit annoyed. I mean, she’s just not the type of person to show up late without calling. And she’d texted me “see you soon” when I said I was looking forward to meeting her.

So where the hell was she? Wasn’t this our day for tea and Tarot?

Then it hit me. I’d suggested two places. She’d said sure to one of them.

Ahem. Not to the one I was at unfortunately. So I texted her that I would be right there as I hurriedly slurped my gazpacho and downed my coffee. Thank goodness I’d gotten it iced. 😀

When I got to where she was, I announced that it was a great day since I’d gotten to have time at BOTH my favorite places. LOL

So I chose to be happy for that rather than miffed at myself for being in the wrong place.

What have you chosen this week? Joy over miffed I hope.

Have you done your affirmation today? Remember! Look yourself in the eye in the mirror as you say, “I am a joy seeker. Joy finds me. I am a joy magnet.”

Seek joy, y’all.

Joy Chrysanthemum, Arwen Lynch, 2014

Bobcats, Canyons + Journeys

We wandered. We roamed. We just ambled. He found bobcat…

Caprocks Canyon
Caprocks Canyon, Texas — click for full size

Sometimes I just have to sit back. I need to remember to enjoy the journey. When I don’t have a particular goal, destination, step in mind, I can learn so much just by simply being.

A year ago, maybe two, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I journeyed to Caps Rock Canyon in west Texas. We wandered. We roamed. We just ambled. He found bobcat tracks in one area. In another we watched birds swoop and soar on the winds.

[Tweet “Where will joy take you today?”]

Today I envelop myself in joy. I take advantage of the happiness in the world. I release my need to wallow in sadness. I invoke my higher happier self. I give myself up to the Universal joy winds. Loved and loving, I love each of you. Seek joy, y’all. Pass it on.

Caps Rock Canyon by Stephanie Arwen Lynch

Here’s a beautiful book on the canyons of Texas.

Feel free to share.

Seek joy, y’all.

Cheetah or Snail?

Well then, I guess we better point out what a craptastic snail the cheetah is.

Today is not a card day. Today is about something small and modest. Today is about ownership. Today is about being proud of what I can do. It is, in the end, about snails and cheetahs.

This post was sparked by something a friend said on their Facebook. They spoke of how it saddened them to see inspirational posts and photos and quotes about how they could do anything they set their mind to do.

You see, my friend has a chronic illness. For them, a good day is a day that doesn’t require a nap. I responded to their post with this,

“Defeatist thinking? That’s not defeatist thinking! That’s understanding what you can do. I certainly can’t run a marathon (don’t really want to either, thanks). I rewrite those things into things I can do. Like…walking more than half a block is a goal right now. Fuck defeatist thinking because that…well, that defeats the whole purpose. Seek joy on your own terms. If joy today is making it through cleaning up the kitchen, then celebrate that. You get to set YOUR own damned goals of happiness. So there.”

And I mean that. My garden is my example of this. Would I like a yard that has twisting paths with sudden explosions of color? Where animals come to play? Where I can stroll out to have a cup of tea under a weeping willow tree?

Heck yeah.

But the realities of my circumstances are that I live in a condo where I can container garden only. I have a bad back so sometimes I have to sit my ass on the concrete to scoop dirt into pots (and that, my friends is a luxury that some don’t have…the ability to get up and down from the concrete!). I (and my darling husband and my stepson when he lived here) recycle pots that others throw out.

I work with what I have and am joyful for that work. I can’t hold myself to anyone else’s standards (or sub standards for that matter.) What I need is to be true to my own precious self.

garden4112014So my garden is what you see in the picture. Six salvia plants, two petunias, bell peppers, jalapenos and tomatoes. Not a twisting path in sight unless you count the dirt that fell out of the bag. I turned that to mud when I dragged the hose over to water.

And I am inordinately proud of my little patio mess. I own it. It’s me. It’s all me.

So, looping back to my response to my friend’s words…I want you all to give yourself permission to do what you can and a bit more. If your “bit more” is skipping 30 minutes of an hour nap, then good on you. Whatever your “bit more” is, that’s your inspirational challenge. So what if it is “empty the dishwasher in one session instead of two”? Who the heck cares? You did something that challenges YOU.

And that, my loves, that is what is important. Challenge yourself.

A snail doesn’t set out to beat a cheetah. It sets out to get where it wants to go.

Isn’t that enough? The snail knows it can’t compete with the cheetah, but you know what? I’ll bet the cheetah can’t compete with the snail either. Does the cheetah have the ability to carry its own den with it? NO?

[Tweet “Well then, I guess we better point out what a craptastic snail the cheetah is.”]


Be the best you you can be. That’s enough.

Patio Beginnings, picture by Arwen Lynch-Poe, April 11, 2014

Seek joy, y’all. Pass it on.


How Do You Maintain?

Today’s card is not a Tarot card. It’s a reminder via a tangle I did. I’ve been doing this awesome group called “Becoming Safely Embodied” with my therapist and three other amazing women. We just completed the sessions.

Among the things we did was some art therapy. On the last day we were asked to take a large piece of paper to draw or write about our experiences in the group. I grabbed a red pen and tangled.
This is only a portion of that sheet. And, truthfully, I didn’t find JOY in this group. Joy is something I find all the time because I actively look for it.

I think that the best thing was a chance to meet with others who were on a similar path of healing but who were not women I would have normally met. Each was unique in her own life and so incredibly authentic.

I think that is one of the hardest things to maintain. For me at least. No, not the joy seeking. The really hard thing is for me to maintain authenticity as a joy seeker.

There are times when I get so freaking tired of all the negativity. I want to stop leading a joy-seeking life and shriek like a mad woman.

Oh, I’m not perfect. Ask my stepson. He takes the brunt of my non-joyful behaviour (mostly around things I ask to be done that aren’t done–this doesn’t make me joyful.) I don’t pretend to be perfect either. I think that sucks too.

LOL. This post is more about what sucks rather than joy, isn’t it. 😀

So my 180 seconds today will be focusing on why the negativity of others eats at me. Why I feel so compelled to get out of my hula hoop. And how to stay in that self-described hoop.

What will your 180 seconds be devoted to today? Your choice! Just dedicate three minutes to challenging your self on some level.

Seek joy, y’all! Pass it on.

Joy Tangle, Arwen Lynch, feel free to share with copyright attached pretty please.

The Secret To Life Is…

And joy is such an easy thing to find when you realize the secret to the whole thing.

zentangle007Today’s card is one another of my Zentangles. I’ve done three in a row. I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been out of town the past two days and had to be at work today at 7am. I’ve been at a family gathering to say good bye to a loved one.

I know yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. That happens sometimes. So today, I wanted to remind you, my darlings, of why my life is so spectacular even though I’ve just been at a funeral.

It’s because of you. Each of you who read this. Each of you who tell me that something made them think of me saying, “Seek Joy, Y’all.” Each of you are held in my heart like bright, shiny lights.

I seek joy because I must. I seek joy because to seek is a verb that demands action. It demands a partnership. It requires participation.

And joy is such an easy thing to find when you realize the secret to the whole thing.

Pay attention, y’all. I’m fixin’ to tell you the secret to life.


Okay, no, that’s not it. Well it is it, but not this it.

The secret to finding joy is that joy piles up. Little tiny specks of happy roll up into drops of bliss that merge into whole tsunamis of joy. Joy will overwhelm you if you let it.

Stop getting in your own way, my darling dears. Stop refusing to allow joy to pile up. Stop denying those miniscule moments of merriment.

Acknowledge them. Nod your head at them. Wave to them. Write them down.

Seek joy, y’all. And keep on seeking it. Don’t ever stop. This is an avalanche we are creating here.

Zentangle, Arwen Lynch, 2013

Seek Joy, Y’all. Pass it on!

Curious about Zentangles? Learn more at

What Will You Do For 180 Seconds?

The sun burned my eyes on my walk back in. I couldn’t see a thing and nearly walked into a neighbor taking his morning stroll.

Cats_Eye_19SunToday’s card reminds me to soak it up. This orange tabby understands the value of making time to enjoy the day. The bright daisies next to him (did you know 85% of all orange tabby cats are male?) remind him to find beauty everywhere.

The sun is shining on him. See his shadow on the white post? He’s my reminder to seek joy today. To look for small things like daisies. On my morning walk with the dogs today, I was treated to the high pitched chirp of the female cardinal. I saw her in her feathered suit of brown and red then caught the brilliant flash of her mate as he zipped into a tree near her. A blue jay shouted out from somewhere that he was in the market for luuuurve while a mockingbird bachelor took up residence high on a telephone pole.

Did you know that the bachelor mockingbird will sing nearly non-stop while looking for his partner? Also, he flings himself way up into the air to show off his silver and white and black handsome self. Of course, if you’ve ever been the bedroom window the bachelor chooses to sing outside of, then this may not bring you all the joy it could. LOL.


The sun burned my eyes on my walk back in. I couldn’t see a thing and nearly walked into a neighbor taking his morning stroll. He called a good morning to me knowing I couldn’t see due to the sun in my eyes. Just a neighborly thing to do when the sun is at your back.

Spring is coming. It’s still late winter of course but here in Texas that looks very different from my years in Michigan or in Colorado.

What will bring you joy today? What does late winter look like where you are? Rather than rail at the weather that is, find some joy in it. Allow your heart to open up to joy.

Can you commit to three minutes, just 180 seconds, of seeking joy today?

Some of my loved ones are having such hard times right now. Know that I have you in my heart and love you very much.

And that goes for all of you reading this. I love you. It really is that simple for me in this moment.

Sun, Cat’s Eye Tarot, U.S. Games 2011 (used with permission)

Seek joy, y’all! Pass it on.

The Cat’s Eye Tarot is a personal favorite of mine that I use in public readings. I recommend this deck.